Gragson Comes Up Just Short of Victory After Attempting 'Video Game' Move in Final Corner at Iowa

Gragson Comes Up Just Short of Victory After Attempting 'Video Game' Move in Final Corner at Iowa Getty Images for NASCAR
Noah Gragson found himself in the runner-up position, a half second behind Brett Moffit, with 20 laps remaining in Saturday's M&M's 200 at Iowa Speedway. In the closing laps, Gragson slowly reeled in Moffitt but was unable to work his way around the eventual race winner. After Moffit took the white flag Gragson followed him down the backstretch and then as the two entered Turn 3, made what he called a "video game" move diving to the bottom of Moffit through the middle of the corner and clearing him off the exit of Turn 4. Unfortunately, the Las Vegas native's momentum would carry him into the outside wall and Moffitt was able to work his way back around the Safelite Tundra before they crossed the start-finish line to collect the victory. Gragson ended up crossing the stripe 0.33 seconds behind in the runner-up position, just in front of his Kyle Busch Motorsports' (KBM) teammate Harrison Burton, who finished third.
Stage One Recap: 
  • Gragson posted the third fastest time in the final round of Saturday afternoon's qualifying session. With the outside lane being the preferred lane, the Safelite Tundra would fall back to the eighth position by the time the field crossed the start-finish line for the first time.
  • Gragson remained in the eighth spot when his teammate Todd Gilliland brought out the first caution of the race on lap 24. He communicated that his Toyota was "tight in the center," but his crew chief Rudy Fugle elected to keep his young driver on the track knowing it was too early to pit.
  • The Safelite Tundra restarted from the seventh position when the race went back green on lap 30. He would gain one position in the final 30 laps of Stage One to finish sixth. 
Stage Two Recap: 
  • Fugle summoned his driver to pit road between stages for four fresh tires, a full tank of fuel and a trackbar adjustment to try and loosen the handling of the Safelite Tundra. A speedy stop by the over-the-wall crew allowed Gragson to return to the track in the fourth position for the start of Stage Two.
  • The 19-year-old driver catapulted to the lead with a strong restart and would remain out front for seven laps. After giving up the lead, Gragson slowly began to fade back before settling into the fifth position on lap 93.
  • Gragson remained in the fifth spot when a one-truck accident slowed the field for the fourth time on lap 103. He communicated that his Toyota was "loose in and tight center" before hitting pit road when it opened.
  • The over-the-wall crew administered a four-tire and fuel stop with a wedge adjustment and returned their driver back to the track scored in the eighth position.
  • The talented teenager took advantage of his fresh tires, advancing four spots in the final 10 laps of Stage Two to finish fourth.
Final Stage Recap: 
  • Having pitted at the end of Stage Two, Fugle elected not to pit which allowed the Safelite Tundra to restart from the second position when the Final Stage went green with 73 laps remaining.
  • Gragson would fall back to the third position on the restart and remained there until the sixth and final caution of the race occurred on lap 135.
  • The NASCAR Next alum worked his way around David Gilliland for the runner-up position with 50 laps remaining and set his sights on Moffitt, who was a half second ahead of him.
  • Gragson would remain behind Moffitt for the final 49 laps as the race closed with a long green-flag run. Not wanting to settle for his second runner-up finish of the season, Gragson made a valiant effort for the win in the final corner but was unable to successfully complete the pass. The second-place finish was his fourth top-five finish across nine races in 2018. 
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Steven B. Wilson

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